Ballet & Dance

New Production
Music by Richard Strauss (1909)
Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannstahl
5 performances

November 11(Thu)7:00pm, 14(Sun)3:00pm, 17(Wed)7:00pm,
20(Sat)5:00pm, 23(Tue)3:00pm 2004
Approximate running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Conductor: Ulf Schirmer
Director: Hans-Peter Lehmann
Scenery and Costume Design: Olaf Zombeck

Klytämnestra: Karan Armstrong
Elektra: Nadine Secunde
Chrysothemis: Nancy Gustafson
Aegisth: Richard Brunner
Orest: Chester Patton

Elektra is the first masterpiece produced by the fruitful collaboration between Richard Strauss, one of the greatest German composers who wrote music mostly in the forms of the symphonic poem, the opera and the songs from the late 19th to the 20th century, and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, a poet-dramatist who is known as a first-rate talent in German literary history. Strauss had established himself as an opera composer with his previous work Salome, but the collaboration between the two artists led to the creation of Elektra, which caused a sensation when it was first performed at the Hoftheater, Dresden, in 1909. The two subsequently produced other masterpieces, including Der Rosenkavalier (The Knight of the Rose), Ariadne auf Naxos (Ariadne on Naxos), Die Frau ohne Schatten (The Woman without a Shadow), Die aegyptische Helena (The Egyptian Helena) and Arabella. Based on the tragedy by Sophocles, one of the three major Greek tragic dramatists, the wild passions of Elektra, a mythological heroine, are packed into the one-act drama. Influenced by Wagner, the German composer’s music is dramatically powerful and pushes forward with realistic sound expression using music techniques that were avant-garde and daring for the time. Because his orchestration is the largest in scale in modern operatic history, singers performing as Elektra, in particular, are required to have a capacious voice that can be heard above the music and dense sounds of the orchestra. High expectation is also placed on how Ulf Schirmer, who was highly acclaimed for his tightly knit, fast-paced music when he conducted Le Nozze di Figaro, will conduct the orchestra in this production.
The action takes place in ancient Greece after the Trojan War. On the night Mycenaean King Agamemnon returns home as a hero from a victorious war, he is murdered by Clytemnestra, his wife and queen, aided by her lover Aegisthus. The king’s daughter Elektra, who witnesses the murder, helps her young brother Orestes to escape from Mycenae immediately after her father’s death so that they can both avenge their father someday in the future. The stepfather, who subsequently takes the throne, and Clytemnestra treat Elektra, who is always confronting them, as though she were an animal. In the evening, in the courtyard, Elektra mourns the death of her father and swears revenge. Her sister Chrysothemis, seeking a woman’s happiness, tries to dissuade Elektra from her schemes of revenge, but this falls on deaf ears. Clytemnestra passes by and inquires of her daughter about the nightmares that plague her every night. Elektra replies that Clytemnestra will be offered in sacrifice by Orestes. Then comes the news of Orestes’s death, and Elektra decides that she must act alone to avenge her father. She begins to dig up the axe that had slain Agamemnon but is interrupted by a stranger in the courtyard. This man is soon found to be Orestes, and she becomes overcome with joy. Orestes enters the palace and kills Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. Elektra dances in triumph before collapsing dead.
  <Conductor>   <Director>  
  Ulf Schirmer   Hans-Peter Lehmann  
<Main Cast>
  Karan Armstrong   Nadine Secunde  
Nancy Gustafson Richard Brunner Chester Patton